Nkuli Khanyile is a talented Gauteng based bartender and mixologist who has plans to show the world that women from Africa are a force to be reckoned with in the bartending industry.
Nkuli recently won a competition that culminates in Cognac, France where some of the world’s best bartenders will compete for the title of Best Bartender at the Rémy Martin Bartender Talent Academy in October.
‘I am currently a student at Witwatersrand University studying a BCom PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics). Baking has always been my number one passion, so when I decided that I needed to earn some extra money whilst studying, bartending seemed to fit well. I thought it would be an easy job that involves generic shots and mixers – but I could not have been any more wrong.’
‘I was introduced to a world of art that I never knew existed. I’ve had a new profound outlook and respect for this industry in South Africa.’
Take a look at the interview with Nkuli below where she shares her industry insight, aspirations and her winning Rémy Martin drink recipe that booked her spot to Cognac, France.
As a female bartender in South Africa, does this present any challenges or advantages?
‘I feel as though I am part of a community of ladies that are always growing and supporting each other. In this industry, I feel as though men and women are on an equal platform in terms of respect and opportunities, which I deeply value.’
‘The only challenge I have witnessed is having the courage to break into certain spirit categories such as cognac and making it known that women too can enjoy drinking and talking about them.’
You have secured yourself as one of South Africa’s young and upcoming female bartenders. What is it that you want to tell and show the world?
‘I want to show people that you can find a passion and love for a part time job. For me this was an industry that I never knew I could fall in love with and it has influenced my career path in a massive way. Just because you have a working job, doesn’t mean that you have to suffer through it.’
‘For me, this is something I’ve learnt whilst being in this industry and it has slowly taken away the fear that you can be successful in different ways. I am now so much more confident in stepping out and being bold with my career and the drinks I make. Very true to the Rémy Martin One Life / Live Them campaign.’
Having earned the chance to go to Cognac, France and compete at the Bartender Talent Academy, what does this mean for you and your career?
‘It means the world to me. It has sparked a passion for Cognac within me and has given me the opportunity to gain knowledge – something I value greatly for my future in bartending and cooking.’
Take a look at two drink recipes below, the Rémy Martin Royal Sidecar and Nkuli’s winning cocktail, Back and Forth from The Garden.
Rémy Martin Royal Sidecar
1-part Rémy Martin 1738
0.5 parts lemon
Mix all of your ingredients into a shaker with ice.
Shake well or until shaker is freezing to the touch.
Then strain the liquid into your best coupe glass.
Garnish with the zest of a lemon.
Back and Forth from The Garden
1-part Rémy Martin 1738
1-part Cointreau infused with rosemary
Splash of chocolate bitters
Splash of citric acid
Pink peppercorn solution
Mix all of the ingredients together in your best shaker with good quality ice and shake well.
Remove the ice and shake again to achieve an aerated froth.
Strain into the tumbler over a 5x5x7 ice block.
Garnish with spun sugar and wax flowers